You’ve decided on a date for your wedding. Maybe you’ve even started looking for a venue. What’s next on your wedding planning journey? Informing your intended guests about your upcoming celebration, of course!
Knowing when to send save-the-dates will help your guests plan their schedules accordingly, make travel arrangements, and allot money for expenses. We’ve broken down everything you need to know about when to send your save-the-dates and how to announce your upcoming nuptials.
Should You Send Save-the-Dates?
Absolutely. While they’re not essential, etiquette recommends sending save-the-dates to your guests. Yes, this includes those who already know, like your bridesmaids and wedding party.
Save-the-dates help your guests plan their schedule, arrange time off from work, and plan childcare if necessary so they can celebrate your big day with you. They’re especially useful for destination weddings or if you decide to tie the knot over a holiday weekend. Your wedding guests will really appreciate the heads up — especially if they need to make travel arrangements.
Plus, save-the-dates are a great way to show off your beautiful engagement photos. If you’re having a short engagement and your wedding day is fast approaching, you can skip sending save-the-dates and simply mail your formal invitations instead. If you have a little bit more time, you might consider sending online save-the-dates instead.
When to Send Save-the-Dates
For most couples, when to send save-the-dates is about four to six months ahead of the wedding. This is a sweet spot for accommodating the needs of your guests, as it gives them plenty of time to make arrangements to attend.
For destination weddings, it’s best to send your save-the-dates slightly earlier. We recommend anywhere between six to 12 months depending on the location, how far guests will need to travel, and what plans they’ll need to make to be at your wedding.
Like almost everything wedding-related, when to send save-the-dates is ultimately your choice as a couple. You know your guests best, so you’ll have an idea if they need extra time to make arrangements to attend or whether they’re happy to hear from you closer to the date.
When to Start Planning Your Save-the-Dates
You’ve worked out when to send save-the-dates, now let’s make sure you have enough time to get them ready.
We suggest giving yourself a month to get everything together to create your dream save-the-dates. This gives you time to find a design you like, or to work with a designer to create your own.
Some couples like save-the-dates to match their wedding stationery or wedding website, but you may not be at that stage just yet.
If you’ve already built your wedding website with us, you’ll find lots of beautiful save-the-date designs that match our templates. Another idea is to browse websites like Pinterest to find DIY inspiration.
You’ll also want to factor in time for printing. Check with your designer or the company you’re using to print your save-the-dates. Some will have a longer lead time than others, especially for bespoke and more detailed designs.
Sending electronic save-the-dates only? You can cut your planning time down, as you won’t need to worry about printing and delivery times.
Your Save-the-Date Checklist
You’re all set with when to send your save-the-dates, but do you know what they should include? If not, don’t worry — use this list to help you plan and format the perfect save-the-dates.
Info About the Couple
It wouldn’t be a save-the-date without confirming who the happy couple is. Yes, it may be obvious to most (if not all) of your guests, but you’ll want to formally invite people as a couple.
Plus, it helps those distant relatives who may not have seen you and your partner for a while.
Give your invitees an extra reason to smile and make reference to your love story, either on your save-the-dates or on your wedding website.
This is the second most important piece of information to include on your save-the-dates. After all, it’s what these little cards are named after.
You want people to celebrate your special day with you, so your wedding date needs to be firmed up before you send out your save-the-dates. If you can’t confirm your date just yet, postpone sending your cards. It doesn’t matter if they’re sent out a little later than expected.
Worried that the date might change? You can always send a paperless card from your wedding website to keep everyone updated (more on this later).
Even if you haven’t chosen a venue yet, the location of your wedding needs to be on your save-the-dates. It’s a huge help for your guests to know where the celebration is taking place. This is especially useful for people who are traveling from out of town, and it’s a must-have for a destination wedding.
If you’ve fallen in love with a venue and booked your wedding already, feel free to mention the exact location on your save-the-dates. Otherwise, the town, city, or general location is fine.
Before sending your save-the-dates, you need to be really clear on who is invited. Tradition says that if someone receives a save-the-date, it’ll be followed by a wedding invitation. That means your list needs to include only the people you really want at your wedding.
It also helps to include who specifically in a group is invited. If a partner or plus one is invited, make this clear. The same goes for family members and children of your invitees.
Have an A list and a B list? Send your save-the-dates to your top invitees only. You can always skip right to sending your wedding invitations to any later guests if some of your top-tier friends and family aren’t able to make it.
It’s not an essential, but if you’ve created a beautiful wedding website, it makes sense to include a link on your save-the-dates.
Your wedding website will be the go-to place for guests to stay up-to-date with what’s happening, so get them involved right from the start. It’ll be where they can RSVP, view your engagement photos, and find your registry.
If your wedding is a fair distance away, or you’re planning a destination wedding, you might want to include some basic travel information.
Along with the approximate location (if you don’t have the exact venue yet), you could share where the nearest airport or train station is, plus details on local hotels. While it’s not a must-have, your guests are likely to appreciate the extra information to help plan their travel.
Don’t want to include too much on your save-the-dates? You could always feature this information on your wedding website instead.
Add a page with information on nearby hotels so guests can find the best value on hotel rooms, along with tips on the best places to enjoy a meal the day before.
How to Address Save-the-Dates
It might seem straightforward, but there are some very important considerations to keep in mind when addressing your save-the-date envelopes. The printed address is the first impression your guests will get about your wedding. The formality of your invitation will be their first clue to your wedding style.
Additionally, it is important to be careful about how you address the envelope, based on who is invited. For example, if you’re not inviting children, be sure to address the save-the-date to “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith” and not “The Smith Family.”
Here are some examples for addressing various parties according to formal etiquette:
- For a married couple with the same last name: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
- To a single woman or man to whom you are offering a plus one: Mr. John Smith and Guest
- To a married couple with different last names: Mr. John Smith and Ms. Sarah Brown
- To an unmarried couple: Ms. Sarah Brown and Mr. John Smith (include the person you are closest with first)
- To families with multiple guests living in the same house: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
(next line) Ms. Lisa Smith
- When everyone in the household is invited: The Smith Family
- To a same-sex couple: Mr. John Smith and Mr. Edward Stevens
Families don’t look the same now as they did many years ago. If there are many guests with different last names in the same household, you can include them as a list or on their own line, if you have room. Just make sure not to refer to everyone as “Smith Family” if there are members in the household with a different last name.
Additionally, modern etiquette is more flexible regarding the first names of husbands and wives. It’s most formal to say, “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.” However, if this wording doesn’t resonate with you, or if you fear you may offend your guests, it’s perfectly appropriate to write “Mr. and Mrs. John and Sarah Smith.”
On that note, if you’re having a more casual wedding, feel free to write your save-the-dates more informally as well. “John and Sarah Smith” would be fine. Formal etiquette also dictates no nicknames, but you should feel free to use them if your wedding is more laid-back and it fits your style.
Whatever you choose, remember to be consistent. Between thank you notes and party invitations, you’ll be addressing a lot of cards during the next few months. If you’re printing address labels, you can reprint the same template for your formal invitations.
It’s a Date!
It may seem like an extra step, but it’s well worth it to send save-the-dates. This gives your guests a heads up to start planning — and getting excited — for your wedding. Be sure to leave enough time to print and mail your invitations, and leave an extra buffer if you’re having a destination wedding or many guests will be attending from out of town.
When creating your designs, keep your save-the-date wording and addresses on the envelope in line with the tone and formality of your wedding. Brush up on save-the-date etiquette to help with decisions like paper vs. electronic and if you’d like these announcements to complement your wedding invitations. Whichever route you take, your guests will be thrilled to mark their calendars for your special day.